Summer. Images of pool parties, beach bonfires and backyard BBQs fill our minds. Combine all that socializing with an increase in thirst from sizzling hot temps and a cool, refreshing beverage is just the ticket. But most summer-themed drinks can wreck havoc on your waistline. Alcoholic beverages such as margaritas, piña coladas and mojitos are high in calories, sugar and alcohol, and even non-alcoholic beverages such as lemonade or virgin daiquiris are high in calories and sugar—which can quickly derail your healthy-eating efforts.
But all hope is not lost. You can still enjoy a refreshing summer drink without packing on the pounds. Here are our tricks and tips to make a delicious, nutritious and refreshing beverage. And if you want to take the healthy route and choose to pass on alcohol, look for the tips to make it a mocktail.
SKINNY COCKTAIL TIPS:
Avoid sugary bases for drinks, like simple syrup, added sugar, regular soda or fruit punch. Instead use fresh fruit juice. Try our Pineapple-tini. Combine 2 oz. coconut rum and 2 oz. pineapple juice in a shaker glass. Add a scoop of ice, cover and shake. Strain and pour into a martini glass.
Sparkling water (plain or fruit-flavored) - Watermelon Mint Gin Fizz (serves 4): Combine 4 cups of cubed watermelon, 3 mint leaves and 1/2 cup of fresh lime juice in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a pitcher and stir in 6 oz. gin and 1 liter of sparkling water. Place 3 cubes of frozen watermelon into each glass and top with the cocktail. Garnish with a mint leaf. (Omit the gin for an alcohol-free version.)
Use fruit puree - Peach Fizz. Blend 2 ripe peaches, 1 ripe mango and 1/2 cup of orange juice. Pour into 8 glasses; top each with 1 shot peach schnapps and 1 shot of sparkling wine (or ditch the alcohol and add orange-flavored sparkling water).
Sparkling wines- Raspberry Orange Sunrise. Blend 1 cup of orange juice and 1 oz. of organic raspberries; pour into 4 champagne glasses and top each with 4 oz. Prosecco or Cava (or sparkling water for alcohol free).
Fruit-filled ice-cubes - Place slices of fruit or whole berries in each opening of an ice cube tray and cover with water. Place in the freezer until frozen. Use in your drink for a pretty presentation.
Fresh herbs- Mint, rosemary and thyme add a big punch of flavor to any drink. Try our Blackberry Mojito. Use the end of a wooden spoon to gently crush together 1 cup of blackberries with 2 mint leaves. Add a shot of rum and top with sparkling water (omit the rum for a mocktail).
Blend it - Blending gives your drink more volume. For a Strawberry Margarita, blend 1 cup of frozen strawberries with one shot of tequila, the juice of 1/2 a lime and a splash of triple sec. The frozen berries takes the place of ice and the longer you blend the more air that gets whipped into the drink, yielding a berry big drink! (Use only juice and fruit for a virgin margarita.)
Use what's in season! Let fresh fruits (berries, peaches, mango, pineapple, watermelon) flavor your drink instead of sugar, as in this summer sangria. In a large pitcher, place 1 pint of organic strawberries, hulled and halved, 2 oranges, halved and sliced into 1/4-inch smiles, 2 fresh peaches, pitted and cut into chunks, and top with 3 bottles of white wine (dry, such as Pino Grigiot) and let sit at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, add 1 liter of sparkling water (orange essence) to the pitcher.
Try low-calorie alcohol bases- Shochu (Japenese) and soju (Korean) have only 35 calories per 2-ounce serving (compared to 120 calories for 2 oz. vodka). Try this Rockin' Cosmo: Mix 1 oz. shochu with 1 oz. Chambord, 1 oz. orange juice and the juice of 1/2 a lime. Shake in a martini shaker and pour.
Fewer ingredients means fewer calories.